Much joy found during these days of Lent - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Much joy found during these days of Lent

Gary DiLallo, one of our permanent deacons, told me yesterday that the Rite of Election at St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads on Sunday, Feb. 28, was the first in which he had ever participated. He was delighted with the experience, and was much taken by the joy manifested on the faces not only of the catechumens and candidates, but on those of their sponsors and loved ones as well. For Gary, that joy was epitomized by a young boy who said to him after the celebration, "Deacon Gary, that was better than video games!"


I loved the story and well appreciated Gary’s and the young guy’s sentiment. I have not kept count of the Rites of Election at which I have presided but I can tell you that every single one of them has brought joy to my heart. That’s the way it is when we’re privileged to be around people who are genuinely and honestly searching for the Lord. There is joy in the search and the discovery. And the joy is contagious.

Similar joy also has been evident to me in a variety of ways and settings during these early days of Lent. Some examples:

1) The people of St. Januarius, Naples, part of Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community, were warm and open-armed in their welcome when I visited them over the weekend. We enjoyed two liturgies together as well as an elegant dish-to-pass supper. It was a grace to pray with them and to share a meal. It was a blessing to see people relaxing together and to relax with them. And I am always deeply moved when I hear — as I did on that visit — parishioners speak with affection and gratitude about their pastoral leader, in this case Father Bob Ring.

2) St. Leo, Hilton, invited me to spend the evening with them on Monday. It was a wonderful time — eucharistic liturgy, a supper of soup and bread in the parish hall, and an opportunity to offer some words of encouragement to them after the meal.

In talking a bit about the ongoing conversion to which we are all called, especially during Lent, I encouraged them to remember a few helpful ideas: 1) conversion is a life-long process so we need to resist the temptation of being discouraged when it doesn’t happen all at once; 2) God initiates the process, sustains it with grace, renews our call even when we stumble and sin; and 3) we shouldn’t and can’t rely on our own spiritual muscles. Ours is to relax and open our hearts to receive what the Lord has already won for us.

3) If you go to a "Coffee and Catholicism" event at Christ the King, Irondequoit, you are in for a treat. This is a program which brings people to the 8 a.m. Mass on Wednesday and invites them to remain afterwards for refreshments and conversation about faith-related topics. A few years ago, I visited to talk about the ministry of the bishop. Today we had a conversation about lay ecclesial ministry. Next week, Father Joe Trovato, CSB, will speak about Mary.

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to share my thinking and experience with our people and to hear from them the stories of their own faith journeys. It is such settings and through such interchanges I believe that the Lord continues to shape and mold our personalities and to call us to deeper life. I am grateful to my friends at Christ the King for this morning’s enriching conversation.

4) Lastly, I mention four meetings held on Tuesday and Wednesday around the diocese — one each in Horseheads and Geneva, two in Rochester. I asked all of our pastors, pastoral administrators and parish trustees to attend one of the meetings, each of which had the same dual purpose, to adopt a set of bylaws for each of our parish corporations and to review some important policies that speak to the proper management of our temporal affairs. Wildly exciting? Not so much. But a cause for joy? For me, absolutely. Why? Because here are hundreds of gifted, busy people willing to sacrifice their time and energy for the good of neighbor and the glory of God. I can’t help but be happy about that.

I hope that your Lent goes well. Please pray for our catechumens and candidates. Please take some time to be still. Please tell the Lord what’s in your heart.

Peace to all.

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